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Baseball Injury Prevention Tips: Base Running & Throwing

Author: Rosemary Buckle, M.D.

America’s pastime isn’t without its risks. According to HealthGrove, there were 118,065 baseball injuries in 2015, the most recent year for which data is available. This figure is a sharp increase from the annual average of 89,338 baseball injuries.

Baseball injuries occur among all ages, of course, but primarily affect adolescents:

    • 6-12 year olds: 37.5% of all injuries
    • 13-17 year olds: 32% of all injuries

Most Common Areas of Injury

    • Face: 21%
    • Head: 12%
    • Finger: 10%
    • Ankle: 8%
    • Knee: 6%

Diagnosis Breakdown

    • Contusion or Abrasion: 26%
    • Strain or Sprain: 19%
    • Fracture: 19%
    • Laceration: 13.5%
    • Other Diagnosis: 8%

Good Technique Can Reduce Risk of Injury

Good technique can reduce a player’s risk of injury on the baseball field. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons makes the following recommendations for improving techniques…

Base Running

    • Sliding should not be taught to players under the age of 10.
    • Sliding should be taught without the use of any bag (including breakaway bases).
    • All players should be taught the “obstruction” rule. Both runners and base players should understand the hazards of blocking the base without possession of the ball.
    • Home plate sliding should be taught so as to avoid collision.
    • A “double bag” should be used at first base to provide more space and prevent ankle/foot injuries between the runner and the first baseman.

Pitching & Throwing

Coaches and leagues should enforce pitch count guidelines among all players. Pitching injuries can occur from overuse and repetitive motion. The USA Baseball Medical & Safety Advisory Committee advises the following pitch count limits based on age:

    • 8-10 years old: max 50 pitches/game, 75 pitches/week
    • 11-12 years old: max 75 pitches/game, 100 pitches/week
    • 13-14 years old: max 75 pitches/game, 125 pitches/week
    • 15-16 years old: max 90 pitches/game, 2 games/week
    • 17-18 years old: max 105 pitches/game, 2 games/week

Additionally, players should not learn the following pitches until these recommended ages…

    • Fastball – 8 years old
    • Change-up – 10 years old
    • Curveball – 14 years old
    • Knuckleball – 15 years old
    • Slider – 16 years old
    • Forkball – 16 years old
    • Splitter – 16 years old
    • Screwball – 17 years old

Baseball Injury? See a Houston Sports Medicine Doctor

To learn more about how a sports medicine doctor may be able to help you stay safer on the baseball field, schedule an appointment at Houston Institute for Sports Medicine & Orthopedics. Call (713) 756-5546. You can also schedule your appointment online.

Please consult with your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines.